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Posts from the ‘Relationships’ Category

Civility

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” – Saint Basil

Like a tennis game, I watched an email exchange last night between colleagues of one of our clients. Back and forth, the ball at high velocity with one snide remark after another, seemingly without end. Jab here, jab there. Egos and arrogance alive and well, disguised as intelligent debate. Email allows us to say things that we would not say if we had to look someone in the eye and see their humanity.

My nieces Emily and Jenna are working at the same restaurant while going to college. They are getting excellent experience in hard work and are on the front lines of customer service lessons. Last week, Emily got yelled at by a woman who didn’t like that the menu had changed. The other lesson they are getting is how not to act.

Unfortunately, we all have similar encounters to share. We see it every day at work, in public, in the political arena, on the road. It’s hard to not take it all personally and we all do deserve respect. But if we pause and don’t automatically dish it back, we realize that their behavior is a reflection of what’s inside them and really has nothing to do with us. And I learned a long time ago that you can’t change people, maybe influence at best. However, we can model and pursue civility and gentleness that is needed to overcome the toxic discourse.

When someone makes a flip cutting remark, say something good to trump it. If you can’t muster that up, simply walk away or say your piece peacefully and move on. We may not understand it, but I really don’t want to understand it or more importantly turn into it. How we react and act is the only thing we can truly control.

Each day, we have the power to choose civility, kindness, courtesy and generosity of spirit, especially when it’s not warranted and needed most. Cast light.

Begin with Me

Songs can bring us back to a time and a place we have long forgotten. And some songs are timeless poetry and truth in motion. As the cantor at church tonight started singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” I was sent back to grade school when we sang this song often. As I grow older, it holds more meaning than ever before.

And we can do more than talk about, wish and pray for peace. We can start peace moving in our own corner of the world. How we talk to each other, where we invest our time, how we reach out to others first with a smile or an encouraging word – all ways to ignite a peace that could succumb the world.

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

In this moment, we can vow to be the peace we long for. Turning an idea, a wish, a longing into reality with simple acts that we can do and be each day. Peace moves from a platitude to a whole new meaning when we own it and live it instead of putting on someone else to take care of. Really want peace? Let it begin in your heart, words and actions. Begin with me – be first.

The Waterline

“What goes on externally is only the tip of the iceberg in any situation. The lessons, the real changes, the opportunities to grow—these are things the body’s eyes can’t see. They remain beneath the spiritual water line, but they are there. And they represent a much more vast picture of the soul’s journey than what we can see from the perspective of our physical senses. Growth is not always about getting what we think we want. Always, it’s about becoming the men and women we have the potential to be. Loving, pure, honest, clear.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau

Cast your net more deep than wide. Beneath the surface of assumptions and judgment lies compassion and kindness. The truth is below the waterline, waiting to free us to love deeper, stay longer and become who we are meant to be. Just beneath the waterline.

Home

“Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.” – Tad Williams

Home – our true north, our center.

I’ve been gone at conference for one of our clients since 3:45 am last Tuesday morning. 14 hour days. Wonderful people. Exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I’ve been fortunate to work with nonprofit associations for 25 years this year. This conference was the culmination of what associations are all about – a professional home of friends and family gathering in community for a common purpose. A celebration.

It’s good be home, to the girls, to family, to the place that accepts us unconditionally with open arms and paws. We are called to move out into the world. To engage. To participate. To give our best, until we have no more to give.

Yet, as we journey out, we can carry home with us and offer that gift to others as we welcome them with enthusiasm, a hug and an authentic smile. And all that is good and right about home moves into the world.

Welcome home.

Be Still

“Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude.” – Joyce Meyer

It seems innocent enough. A little complaining, talking about someone else, thinking everyone has it better than us – they’re “lucky.” Feeling justified, we think that letting it out again and again somehow will make it better. And it doesn’t, it makes it worse. What we focus on is what we become, who we are. These seemingly little things chip away at our capacity for joy. These joy-stealers are contagious if we don’t keep our guard up. Complaining is one of my triggers. I’ve been hearing a lot of it lately and instead of letting others chirp and let it go, I complain about their complaining. I fall into these traps when I’m tired, working too many hours and when I don’t get to run outside due to the “polar vortex” winter with 20 below temps.

We need to be still and look for the good in others without question or delay. Naïve? Maybe, but what and who will we miss by jumping to conclusions, judgments and criticism? Are we willing to risk joy and delight in exchange for “being right” in our own mind, whether we are or not. And we not only need to remove the joy-stealers, we need to replace them with gratitude, appreciation and awe for the many blessings to be found when we take off our blinders and filters. The light shines in replacing the dark. Be still and cast light.

“So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” – T. S. Eliot

“So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” – T. S. Eliot

Bob and Weave

Like a boxer in the ring, we bob and weave through our days, fists up to protect a hook to the chops, a jab to the ribs. On the defense to protect ourselves from a cheap shot.

Business, politics and the media thrive on the negative, the downside, survival and “winning” by demolishing the opponent. Competition that challenges and improves our skills has become mean-spirited, unreasonable and hollow. Ideas and healthy debate to create better solutions to make our world better have turned into polar left and right, I’m right and you’re wrong. Cynicism is in fashion.

And in the midst of it all, hope and light remain. Perhaps quiet at times, but strong and present as ever. Lately, we’ve had coworkers’ babies, kids, puppies and dogs stopping in the office. A young father tenderly holding his first child. A mom with two confident little ones walking in the office like they own the world with their best friend as their driver. A puppy cuddled and the tone of our voices get higher and animated. And as we gather to witness and be a part of it, we become softer, tapping into our hidden reservoir of joy and delight. We wake up.

We are transformed by connection, conversation, time with family and friends. Reminding us to reaching out instead of retreat. Less bobbing and weaving. More light and life.

ASK

ASssumeK

“Great thoughts and a pure heart, that is what we should ask from God.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When we move past assumptions and go deeper by asking, we will discover a new world. We are surprised when we learn something new about a person we thought we knew, usually based on our first impression or gossip. Our assumptions and judgments hold us back from asking. Like a rock thrown across the water, we skip barely touching the surface, missing out on the deep waters of connection.

She never talks so she must be stuck up. Really she’s an introvert and just needs to be drawn out. He’s in a bad mood. Really he’s just found out his wife is leaving him. There are a lot of undercurrents in people’s lives that impact their behavior and they are more complicated than our assumptions allow. When we move outside of ourselves, we can see our world in a different light. “They” becomes “us.”

We leave a lot of unopened gifts under the tree. And we miss out on the flavor of all different people with one desire in common – to be seen for who they really are.

Assume the best. Ask and listen.

Cast Light

“If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.” – George MacDonald

Cast Light started from a small seed of thought and desire to seek out and shine light on the positive, the goodness in each day, if we choose it over shadow and cynicism. Over a year and 279 posts later, the act of writing the blog challenges me to align my thoughts and desires to my attitude and actions. To live out what I believe, to recognize when I fall short and most importantly to relentlessly pursue light, not perfection.

In conversation with others, I am reminded to get outside of me and to be present in the moment, in relationship. While we are vividly aware of our own feelings, we never really know what someone else may be going through. And when we put aside and rise above our assumptions, judgments, and biases, we discover the humanity, frailty and beauty of those who cross our path each day. CAST = throw forth LIGHT =  love.

“When walking through the 'valley of shadows,' remember, a shadow is cast by a Light.” – Austin O'Malley

“When walking through the ‘valley of shadows,’ remember, a shadow is cast by a Light.” – Austin O’Malley

Persevere

“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Eight months ago when I decided to do my second marathon, I was very excited at the idea. I then proceeded with the training, taking it seriously, following a plan and overall I felt great. At 48, I am in the best shape of my life. Yesterday, I did the work to prepare, to finish strong. I rested and drank extra water on Saturday and Sunday, well-hydrated, I thought.

All week, the meteorologists predicted pouring rain all morning. 8:00 am start – blue skies and mid 40s, a perfect running day. It usually takes me a few miles to warm up. Mile 6, I was achy and had a headache. My brother John had dropped me off, parked near the finish line and biked back to meet me at mile 10 on the course. Mile 13, I told him I felt like I was tanking, only half way there, and I thought, “I may not make it” but I turned up the music and pushed on. I took some more electrolytes and kept going. Mile 16, calf cramp and light headed. Mile 17-20, a few light showers followed by an ankle and groin cramp (first time for this one, delightful). My legs felt like stumps. John kept riding ahead, stopping, getting off the bike and clapping as I went by. At one point, a woman looked at me and asked my name, I told her and she yelled, “you can do it, Kathie!” At least one of us believed it.

At mile 21, I knew I would finish even if I crawled in on all fours. Friends and family were gathered at mile 25 so my goal was to see them, be upright and smiling. My niece Emily surprised me coming back from school (3 hours away) to be there. Right down the line, hugs and kisses for friends and family. Emily ran me in the last mile with John still riding along the side, the longest, slowest bike ride he’s ever done. Mile 26.2 – done. Amen.

Walking back up the hill to mile 25 to see family and friends, I figured I’m too old for this. Where did I go wrong?  I described what happened on the course and Terry asked, “did you drink more water than usual?” – Sure did, needed to be hydrated. Well, it turns out, you can drink too much water – the official term – hyponatremia – I washed all of the electrolytes. He did the same thing on one of his marathons. All the symptoms matched with what happened on the course, with the exception of seizure and death. Glad I missed those.

While I wanted to finish strong, I endured to the finish. Life is about showing up, trying, failing, getting back up, trying again, giving, receiving, fun, faith, family, friends – all those gifts that describe the past four months that culminated yesterday morning. Choose your “marathon” – whatever that is and pursue it with all you have.

Stand Out

“No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.” – George Washington Carver

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

Do not merely blend in, go along to get along, fit into the pack. Conformity dulls and mutes beautiful color. Define yourself and live it without hesitation, leaving more behind because you passed by. We are here to be salt and light, to stand out. Be bold and transform yourself and in turn the world.

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